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Environment Agency: Charging Schemes

Volume 570: debated on Thursday 28 March 1996

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What will be the Environment Agency charging schemes for 1996–97 for regulation under Integrated Pollution Control and the Radioactive Substances Act.

The Environment Act 1995 requires the Environment Agency to make charging schemes so as to recover the costs of carrying out its regulatory functions.The Government have consulted those who are likely to be affected by the schemes. In the light of that consultation, and with the consent of the Treasury, of my right honourable friends the Secretaries of State for the Environment and for Wales and—with regard to the Radioactive Substances Act—of my right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Environment Agency has now made charging schemes for 1996–97 for regulation under Integrated Pollution Control and the Radioactive Substances Act.The schemes will take effect from 1st April 1996. Copies of them have been placed in the Library of the House.The schemes are similar to those which were previously administered by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution, and there are no changes to the levels of charges as they were set out in the equivalent schemes for 1995–96. This represents a reduction in real terms of around 3 per cent. and has been achieved by continuing improvements in efficiency.Since responsibility for these schemes is shortly to pass from the Inspectorate to the Environment Agency, now is an appropriate time to acknowledge the hard work which the Inspectorate has done over the past three years to reduce the level of direct charges in real terms whilst maintaining a credible regulatory regime. We are also pleased to see the Environment Agency making these schemes, which demonstrates their intention to build upon the improvements in regulatory effectiveness and efficiency which were achieved by the Inspectorate, and to limit any increases in charges to those which are essential in order to reduce pollution and to improve the environment.Copies of the schemes will shortly be sent to relevant operators and to other interested bodies.